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Education Technology

How Can Tech Help Fight Education Costs? 503

Posted by Cliff
from the cheaper-AND-better dept.
http101 asks: "With the ever-rising costs of fuel, we seem to forget those that are truly having problems affording it. No, not the homeless, but our own kids. 'Kids,' you ask? Yes, because being driven to school on the 'Yellow Dog' or the 'Edu-Express' better known as a school bus, is costing your state more money than ever before. In my neighborhood, we have a plethora of home connected by fiber and at least high-speed internet. So my question is, how can technology be better-implemented to ensure a student's studies and also lower the costs of fuel for the districts?"
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How Can Tech Help Fight Education Costs?

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  • Correlation (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Oculus Habent (562837) *
    School is still babysitting. Unless you have a parent or tutor in the home who is capable of directing the child to maintain their studies - or a particularly dedicated student - the problem is not one of information transfer, but of physical control.

    Those costs, however, are education overhead, if you will. Busses do not scale with learning or technology. If every other student stays home the bus is even less efficient. Unless you can convince all of the distant students to learn from home... of course, in
    • Re:Correlation (Score:4, Insightful)

      by SuperBanana (662181) on Friday August 26, 2005 @04:00PM (#13410495)
      School is still babysitting.

      I have a friend whose wife is a grade school teacher. Spend 15 minutes with a teacher, and you'll realize just how truly ignorant that statement is. Many teachers I've met are far more dedicated to their job than any techie I've ever met. You don't teach to pay the bills- because it doesn't, not well at all. You teach because you love the concept of helping people learn and contributing to society. The standards are high- when it comes to education and training, they don't have a choice. Peer review is ongoing. Certification is required and often also ongoing. The amount of prep work my friend's wife does for teaching gradeschool classes is astounding.

      Maybe -your- school is full of teachers who are in 'cruise mode', but most are full of people who have dedicated their lives to teaching your children. Show a little gratitude.

      • Re:Correlation (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Zphbeeblbrox (816582)
        I work in over 20 schools supporting their networks. Teachers may very well be dedicated to teaching but they have a remarkably low desire to learn. Tech will never benefit education till teachers are willing to embrace it. Most of them can't even logon to the schools network. The students run rings around them in the computer lab, and don't even get me started their use of computers in the curriculum.

        Certification? It doesn't test anything useful that I can see. Peer review? none of their peers no what tec
      • Re:Correlation (Score:5, Insightful)

        by b17bmbr (608864) on Friday August 26, 2005 @04:12PM (#13410616)
        Since I teach HS, maybe I can clarify. Yes, school is babysitting, at least the way many parents see it. Neither I nor most my colleagues see it that way, but it's hard because we often have to deal with a large number of kids that don't want to be there, are f*** ups, or just don't care. We can't remove the 2 or 3 that screw it up for the remaining 34.

        Our schools are on warehouse mode most of the time, and that comes from on high, not in the classroom. Part of the problem is the very idea of education has been severely deprecated. I am a geek, linux, java, yada yada, but I teach history and consider myself an historian first. But, history, nor 99% of anything else in school is going to be worth $1 more in the "real world". But that's not, nor has is ever been the point of an education.

        So, we have marginalized an education for practical use, which means that kids don't give two shits about history, just a letter on a piece of paper. It's either "I need it for college, how do I get an A" or "When are we ever gonna need this"?

        Don't cry for me Argentina, as I love what I do and have great kids. Really. But, we are in many ways a babysitter, or a caretaker, holding them long enough so they don't rampage the neighborhood while the mommies are out walking the babies. Until there is a penalty (other than personal opportunity squandered) for not graduating and learning, it'll only get worse.
        • Re:Correlation (Score:4, Insightful)

          by badmammajamma (171260) on Friday August 26, 2005 @04:32PM (#13410832)
          Fear not, Mr. History Teacher. When I was in high school I had no interest in history and thought it was a complete waste of time. Ironically, my favorite teacher would become a history teacher who used to go into all kinds of details about war strategies used in the civil war and other wars involving America. I would sit there and listen very intently to everything he had to say about these battles. However, I still only got a C in his class. This was in part due to his tough tests and partially because even though I found his lectures interesting, I still never did my history homework. :)

          Fastforward about 10 years...
          I developed a great appreciation for history and watch all this shit on the history channel, read books, have discussions with friends, etc. What really matters in the end is whether the person you are teaching is ready for the information. I wasn't in high school but many years later I was. I still remember that teacher though and wish I could sit there and listen to him talk about those battles once again. Cest la vie...
        • I surely can't compete with an actual teacher regarding suggestions, but as a student, I loved when teachers taught us in a fun, interesting way.

          When the teacher was cool and informal, we enjoyed much more than with stiff old men wearing suits and dictating - which makes me consider that one of the the problems in teaching is the passive educational model, please refer to the book "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!" [wikipedia.org].

          Also, one of the reasons History gets boring is that it becomes bloated with facts you have
        • Re:Correlation (Score:5, Informative)

          by nido (102070) <nido56.yahoo@com> on Friday August 26, 2005 @05:50PM (#13411582) Homepage
          I think you misunderstand the problem.

          I didn't want to be at school, and I was good at it. My daily refrain for about 4 years was, "do I have to go to school today?" (It ended when I got into a private highschool for the last two years, but even then I only tollerated school). The problem was partially the "f*** ups", as you call them, but I was also bored out of my mind. There were so many things I had to do, that I just didn't care about. It was a total waste of time. The local paper printed my letter last year that ended with, "Can I have my 13 years back, please?

          One of your fellow teachers resigned his NYC teaching job with a scathing letter to the Wall Street Journal:

          I may be a teacher, but I'm not an educator

          From The Wall Street Journal, July 25, 1991
          By John Taylor Gatto

          I've taught public school for 26 years but I just can't do it anymore. For years I asked the local school board and superintendent to let me teach a curriculum that doesn't hurt kids, but they had other fish to fry. So I'm going to quit, I think.

          I've come slowly to understand what it is I really teach: A curriculum of confusion, class position, arbitrary justice, vulgarity, rudeness, disrespect for privacy, indifference to quality, and utter dependency. I teach how to fit into a world I don't want to live in.

          I just can't do it anymore. I can't train children to wait to be told what to do; I can't train people to drop what they are doing when a bell sounds; I can't persuade children to feel some justice in their class placement when there isn't any, and I can't persuade children to believe teachers have valuable secrets they can acquire by becoming our disciples. That isn't true.

          Government schooling is the most radical adventure in history. It kills the family by monopolizing the best times of childhood and by teaching disrespect for home and parents.

          An exaggeration? Hardly. Parents aren't meant to participate in our form of schooling, rhetoric to the contrary. My orders as schoolteacher are to make children fit an animal training system, not to help each find his or her personal path.

          The whole blueprint of school procedure is Egyptian, not Greek or Roman. It grows from the faith that human value is a scarce thing, represented symbolically by the narrow peak of a pyramid.

          That idea passed into American history through the Puritans. It found its "scientific" presentation in the bell curve, along which talent supposedly apportions itself by some Iron Law of biology.

          It's a religious idea and school is its church. New York City hires me to be a priest. I offer rituals to keep heresy at bay. I provide documentation to justify the heavenly pyramid.

          Socrates foresaw that if teaching became a formal profession something like this would happen. Professional interest is best served by making what is easy to do seem hard; by subordinating laity to priesthood. School has become too vital a jobs project, contract-giver and protector of the social order to allow itself to be "re-formed." It has political allies to guard its marches.

          That's why reforms come and go-without changing much. Even reformers can't imagine school much different.

          David learns to read at age four; Rachel, at age nine: In normal development, when both are 13, you can,t tell which one learned first -- the five-year spread means nothing at all. But in school I will label Rachel "learning disabled" and slow David down a bit, too.

          For a paycheck, I adjust David to depend on me to tell him when to go and stop. He won't outgrow that dependency. I identify Rachel as discount merchandise, "special education." After a few months she'll be locked into her place forever.

          In 26 years of teaching rich kids and poor, I almost never met a "learning disabled" child; hardly every met a "gifted and talented" one, either. Like all school categories, these are sacred myths, created by the human imagination. They derive from questionable values we never ex

      • The problem is when parents start looking at school as babysitting. Also when parents hold the teacher as the sole source of education in the childs life.

        The teachers I know work hard and do their best. With larger class sizes they just do not have the time to be responsible for ensuring each and every child is challenged to their potential. Parents must be involved in the process by helping their children get the most out of homework, be motivated in their studies, and volunteer in class.

        I think the gran
        • The problem is when parents start looking at school as babysitting.

          I'm not sure that's quite the GP's point either. From the original post
          ...the problem is not one of information transfer, but of physical control.

          In most states it's not legal to leave elementary age children home alone. If parents are working, they have to provide some type of outside care for these children. The public school system has conveniently evolved to provide this supervision for much of the day.

          If kids were learning
      • Re:Correlation (Score:3, Insightful)

        by j_kenpo (571930)
        Lets just cut through the BS...

        "How can technology be better-implemented to ensure a student's studies and also lower the costs of fuel for the districts"

        The above statement is a ruse. You really don't care about students studies, what you care about is fuel costs, your tax money, blah blah blah. Your like a most people in this country, you want to find a cheap short cut to education at the expense of raising taxes. If its your money your concerned with, why don't you ask your school district why th
    • One of the problems is bussing in general- A lot of kids live right near a school, but are bussed accross town in the interest of diversity.
      The other, is why can't kids walk a couple miles or ride their bikes, rather than ride a bus. That has of course secondary consequences of health.
      As the parent says- school is babysitting to a lot of people- How many people take the day off from work if schools are closed for a snow day? A lot. With all the single working parents and dual income families, you aren't g
    • Public education is the largest jobs make-work program that the US government runs.

      It is the largest employment sector in the entire country, and I wouldn't be surprised if this were true of other countries. For every teacher there are numerous bureaucrats and fantastic levels of overhead.

      But how is success measured in a bureaucracy? Larger staffs and bigger budgets.

      By bureaucratic standards, the forced public schools are fantastically successful.

      Oh, you child isn't actually learning how to read? That has n
    • I have a lot of respect for teachers. I think that on the whole they try hard despite being inadequately trained, paid, supplied and supported.

      But that doesn't mean that school isn't babysitting. Most of the way schools are funded are about keeping students in seats for numbers of hours. The beauracracy is designed with that as the primary goal and learning as the secondary - or worse - goal. Frankly, the teachers have no control over this and the administrator of a given district doesn't have that much
  • I can see having a one day a week class at home via a live webcast. The teacher can still take attendance and the kids can still get the knowledge. Unfortunately, this is only feasible if every single kid has access to broadband. And, even with all the advances, there are a LOT of people out in the country that can't even get cable TV much less broadband.

    Now, this might work in the inner city, but at that point you'd have to subsidize the cost of broadband for all those people that can't afford it. And sav
    • A webcast is only one way. And if you try to do it two ways, like videoconferencing? Perhaps it's just because we deal with people from across the country, but even if your average student had a net connection like our great univ. connection, classes would be like:

      Teacher: "Ok, now, what is five plus eight?"
      (students raise hands)
      Teacher: (beat) (beat) "Yes, Mary."
      Teacher: "What's..."
      Mary: "... Twelve ..."
      Teacher: "... wrong? Oh, ..."
      Mary: "... nothing..."
      Teacher: "... sorry for..."
      Mary: "... is wrong..."
  • Easy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <<akaimbatman> <at> <gmail.com>> on Friday August 26, 2005 @03:48PM (#13410380) Homepage Journal
    So my question is, how can technology be better-implemented to ensure a student's studies and also lower the costs of fuel for the districts?

    Just home school. Through this mircale of modern technology, kids can be better taught than through any other method known to man! Not to mention that your child will receive his very own "teacher unit" who just happens to also be related to the child! A Win-Win situation for all!

    Joking aside, Home Schooling is a very good option, especially in rural areas where familys can better afford to only have one parent working. The results of various studies show that the home schoolers easily outperform their publically educated peers, and that the social aspect isn't as big of an issue as was once feared.

    From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] (which actually links to quite a few more sources):

    "The academic effectiveness of homeschooling is largely a settled issue. Numerous studies have confirmed the academic integrity of home education programs, demonstrating that average homeschoolers outperform their public school peers by 30 to 37 percentile points across all subjects. Moreover, the performance gaps between minorities and gender that plague public schools are virtually non-existent amongst homeschooled students. Source [hslda.org]"

    ---

    "According to the findings, children who were schooled at home 'gained the necessary skills, knowledge, and attitudes needed to function in society...at a rate similar to that of conventionally schooled children.'

    "The researcher found no difference in the self concept of children in the two groups. Stough maintains that 'insofar as self concept is a reflector of socialization, it would appear that few home-schooled children are socially deprived, and that there may be sufficient evidence to indicate that some home-schooled children have a higher self concept than conventionally schooled children.'" Source [ericdigests.org]


    Technology only bolsters the abilities of home schoolers. Where as a home schooler of my generation had to be satified with the curriculum, materials the parents could afford, and the local library (an excellent source itself), modern school children can find information on virtually ANY issue simply by checking the Internet. Also, whereas labs done by my generation had to be performed by video tape, the modern generation is capable of actually video conferencing with a lab instructor for more precise education.

    Isn't modern technology wonderful? ;-)
    • Only problem... (Score:3, Insightful)

      ...is the kids who were home schooled typically lack social skills.
      • I don't think the problem is "lacking social skills" as much as it is fitting in with the public school kids. It's like you hear all the time, particularly at a young age kids will make fun of anything that makes someone different from the norm. As the grandparent post mentioned, they develop nearly equal social skills. While it is more difficult than a school environment, there are plenty of ways to get involved in things that let you meet new people.
      • There's a system in some areas where you home school 3 days a week and they go to school the other two, or maybe it's 2/3 I forget. Seems like a good compromise.
      • Re:Only problem... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Colonel Panic (15235) on Friday August 26, 2005 @04:10PM (#13410597)
        I've noticed that children who are homeschooled have better social skills when it comes to dealing with adults. Usually when I visit the home of a family who homeschools the kids will actually enter into conversation with visiting adults. Kids who aren't homeschooled generally shy away from interacting with adults. Not a huge sample, but very noticable.

        Also: often homeschoolers will do classes together with other homeschoolers for subjects like art and music - say you don't know anything about music, but another homeschooling parent you know is a musician. You make an arrangement to take your kids to the mucician's place for music classes and they bring their kids to your place for Ruby Programming classes. These types of arrangements are fairly common among homeschoolers thus negating the 'lack of socialization' arguments.
        • Re:Only problem... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by the phantom (107624) *
          On the other hand, many of the homeschooled kids that I work with (I teach at a public elementary school, and fence with a bunch of home schooled kids) tend to act as though they were adults. No, they are certainly not shy, but they also do not have the same experience, yet feel that their opinion should be considered valid. One of these kids tried to explain to me that school districts cannot have any kind of dress code, because it violates the first amendment of the Constitution. When I told him that s
    • Joking aside, Home Schooling is a very good option, especially in rural areas where familys can better afford to only have one parent working.

      Oh, right, move out to the sticks and home-school, that's the way to economize on fuel....

      (Sorry, but if the goal is energy efficiency, we're waaay better off with people living in the big city and taking the bus to school.)

      • (Sorry, but if the goal is energy efficiency, we're waaay better off with people living in the big city and taking the bus to school.)

        How so? If you live in the country the way people did 100 or even 50 years ago, you can live very cheaply. Only come to town once a week or so, homeschool your kids, grow your own food, about the only fuel source you would need would be for heat.

        Big city life may be more economical in some areas (New York, Chicago, Boston), but in others there is little advantage (LA,

    • Anyone who dooms their children to twelve* years in government schools is guilty of gross negligence, bordering on purposeful, intended cruelty - maybe even sadism.

      I wouldn't put a dog in a government school, much less an innocent, defenseless human child.

      And, quite frankly, the so-called "private" schools aren't much better: The only way to be absolutely certain what it is that your child is being taught is to teach your child yourself.

      *And it's up to 13 years for the children of most absentee paren

      • Anyone who dooms their children to twelve* years in government schools is guilty of gross negligence, bordering on purposeful, intended cruelty - maybe even sadism.

        That sort of exageration for effect is exactly the sort of language the flamebait moderation was invented for.

        --Bruce Fields (spent 12 years in "government schools", got a pretty good education out of it, don't consider my parents guilty of gross negligence--quite the opposite)

    • by CausticPuppy (82139) on Friday August 26, 2005 @04:22PM (#13410720) Homepage
      What makes you think that most parents are qualified to be teachers? In all subjects?

      The parents that DO home school their kids probably do so because they know that they are qualified (and probably have some actual classroom teaching experience in the past).

      A parent that home schools their child simply for financial reasons, in order to save taxpayer money, may not be giving their child a decent education.
      Plus, the school bus will still have to run the same route anyway, using essentially the same fuel, regardless of whether the child is on the bus or not.
      • What makes you think that most US teachers are qualified to be teachers? I mean the results kind of speak for themselves.
      • What makes you think that most parents are qualified to be teachers? In all subjects?

        Nothing. That's why you have to pick a good curriculum. The Beka system I used is often referred to as "Self-Teaching", because most of the teaching is contained within the books, not the parent's head. And if a child cannot understand something (even at a high school level), the explanation is usually more than sufficient for an adult.

        That being said, it's always up to the parents to decide if home schooling will work for them. It generally seems to work well for a lot of families, but if you don't feel up to it, check the alternatives. At the very least, there are quite a few private schools that are very affordable. Especially (dare I say it on Slashdot?) schools run by local Churches. Not all of them are so great (I've seen a few I wouldn't be caught dead sending my child to), but there are enough to where you can get your child a good education on a budget.

        Plus, the school bus will still have to run the same route anyway, using essentially the same fuel, regardless of whether the child is on the bus or not.

        You're forgetting that the route is determined by which children need to be picked up. If the child is near other school children, then your point holds. If the bus actually has to add to its route to pick up the child, then fuel can be saved through each child who home schools.
      • by Chemisor (97276) on Friday August 26, 2005 @04:54PM (#13411082)
        > What makes you think that most parents are
        > qualified to be teachers? In all subjects?

        The fact that most parents have finished high school and supposedly have a diploma signifying that they know all the stuff they are supposed to know. If you don't then how can you justify keeping your diploma? If you do, then you should be able to explain it to your kids. If you can't, then you know you don't know it, and should probably refresh your knowledge.
    • Re:Easy (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nomadic (141991)
      Just home school. Through this mircale of modern technology, kids can be better taught than through any other method known to man! Not to mention that your child will receive his very own "teacher unit" who just happens to also be related to the child! A Win-Win situation for all!

      And that "teacher unit" will in the majority of cases not be competent to teach every subject at the high school level. And in addition to overestimating their own competence, homeschooling parents also have a tendency to overe
      • And that "teacher unit" will in the majority of cases not be competent to teach every subject at the high school level.

        Not sure where you went to school, but I sure as hell had teachers in my high school clases that were not competent to teach the subjects they were teaching. My high school physics teacher had never taught physics before. He sat in on the class before ours, took notes, and taught the same lesson to us. Nice guy, but hardly competent in that subject.

        I'm no proponent of homeschoolin
      • Re:Easy (Score:5, Insightful)

        by AKAImBatman (238306) * <<akaimbatman> <at> <gmail.com>> on Friday August 26, 2005 @04:55PM (#13411087) Homepage Journal
        And that "teacher unit" will in the majority of cases not be competent to teach every subject at the high school level.

        That's why it's very important to pick the proper curriculum. Public school books expect the teacher to provide most of the information verbally. In many of the curriculums designed for home schoolers, the books provide sufficient information to teach the child and allow the parent to understand and help the child if needed.

        homeschooling parents also have a tendency to overestimate their child's desire to spend time with them.

        I actually didn't see my mother very much. Most of our work was done in the morning, and she'd correct the work and perform one-on-one sessions in the afternoon. If all went well, we could actually be done with our schoolwork within five hours of work.

        Finally, you should at least recognize that a large majority of homeschooling is done for religious reasons.

        Irrelevant. If it produces better results as a whole, it doesn't matter what the reasons behind the practice are.

        No, the studies may imply that ON AVERAGE home schoolers outperform publicly educated peers, but that's different than the absolute terms you're phrasing it in. ...
        Your source is so biased as to completely invalidate any assertion they make.


        Alright, let's try what you refer to as "[A] source [that] is definitely better.":

        MAJOR FINDINGS - ACHIEVEMENT
        Almost 25% of home school students were enrolled one or more grades above their age-level peers in public and private schools.

        Home school student achievement test scores were exceptionally high. The median scores for every subtest at every grade (typically in the 70th to 80th percentile) were well above those of public and Catholic/Private school students.

        On average, home school students in grades 1 to 4 performed one grade level above their age-level public/private school peers on achievement tests.

        Students who had been home schooled their entire academic life had higher scholastic achievement test scores than students who had also attended other educational programs.

        There were no meaningful differences in achievement by gender, whether the student was enrolled in a full-service curriculum, or whether a parent held a state issued teaching certificate.

        ---
        Even with a conservative analysis of the data, the achievement levels of the home school students in the study were exceptional. Within each grade level and each skill area, the median scores for home school students fell between the 70th and 80th percentile of students nationwide and between the 60th and 70th percentile of Catholic/Private school students. For younger students, this is a one year lead. By the time home school students are in 8th grade, they are four years ahead of their public/private school counterparts.

        The results are consistent with previous studies of the achievement of home school students. Source [ericdigests.org]


        I dare you to find a study that contradicts these results.

        This source is definitely better, but still a little suspect, considering education studies as an academic field is notorious for it's shoddy research methodology.

        Arguable, perhaps, but I'd be very interested if you could produce studies showing the opposite. I think you'll find that *all* studies done (no matter by whom) show that Home Schooling has shown superior performance in all areas of children's lives.
    • Not to mention that your child will receive his very own "teacher unit" who just happens to also be related to the child! A Win-Win situation for all!


          Oh, now you've done it. This is Slashdot. I think you meant "Lin-Lin situation".
  • Am I getting this right? Is this person trying to say "How can tech be used to homeschool our kids instead of sending them to public school?"

    (If not, what are they doing talking about transportation costs?)
    • No, I think the question he's trying to ask is, "How do we home school without home schooling?"

      And the answer is, "Just home school the child. The result will be that your child will do *better* acedemically and socially."

      The downside is that home schooling isn't for everyone. I was home schooled, but my wife doesn't feel up to the challenge. So we send our kids to a private school. Even then, it was VERY difficult finding a school that was both affordable and met the needs of our child.
      • > The downside is that home schooling isn't for everyone. I was home schooled, but my wife doesn't feel up to the challenge. So we send our kids to a private school. Even then, it was VERY difficult finding a school that was both affordable and met the needs of our child.

        Kudos to you and your family for analyzing the time commitment required and deciding that, since you didn't have the time to commit to the project, to outsource the job to people who would do a good job of it.

        The problem is -- if you

        • You know -- the 90% of the parents of the students in your public school, who already don't give a flying fuck through a rolling doughnut if Johnny can read, as long as he's out of their hair for 8 hours a day.

          It's not so simple to "fake" home schooling. According to the laws in many states, you MUST report the attendence and cirriculum of your children to the State. And if anyone reports you for any reason, you may find a truancy officer knocking on your door, wanting to check on your records and teaching
  • Part of going to school is also to teach kids how to be social and interact with others.

    How does/would home schooling deal with this aspect?
    • In my experience, all the "social" aspect of school (public or private) does is breed elitist and exclusionary people. If someone is the least bit different, school is the worst place to send them, they will be excluded, looked down on and made fun of by the "cliquey" people. Schools are definately the wrong place to pick up, good, social values.
      • In my experience, all the "social" aspect of school (public or private) does is breed elitist and exclusionary people. If someone is the least bit different, school is the worst place to send them, they will be excluded, looked down on and made fun of by the "cliquey" people.

        And the "Real World" isn't like that?

        Might as well get kids used to it while they're young.
    • Part of going to school is also to teach kids how to be social and interact with others.
      How does/would home schooling deal with this aspect?


      When I went to school, we 7 in-between class periods of 5 minutes each. There was one 10 minute break and 20 minutes for lunch. That is a total of 65 minutes. Sending a home-schooled child to the park for an hour after school should easily accomplish the task - unless you are referring to the mistreatment of the smarter children that is a requirement in most (if not
    • Socialization? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Will_Malverson (105796) on Friday August 26, 2005 @04:19PM (#13410703) Journal
      I went to 13 years of public school, and all it taught me was how to interact with people born between October 15, 1974, and October 14, 1975. When I got out into the real world, I had no idea how to interact as an equal with people who were 20 years my senior.

      I'll leave up to the other replies to discuss whether or not the socialization aspect of public school is otherwise a good thing.
    • It achieves the goal of dumbing down the whole population, and only the special, select people getting a true education. It's a way of their parents to care, making sure they can better compete in the coming world, because one way to compete is not to do better than the rest, but concentrate all your effort on making sure the rest really sucks, and then you, even mediocre, get to shine. School desegregation that buses were supposed to achieve was always a half-hearted, halfassed thing, the administration wa
  • Distance education (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Gary Destruction (683101) * on Friday August 26, 2005 @03:50PM (#13410406) Journal
    Distance education could be a possible solution. However, it would not be without some major issues. First of all, the ability for children to learn with distance education would be an issue. Age would definitely be a factor in that regard because they may or may not have the discipline or concentration to handle it.

    Secondly, there are some social implications. Distance education means that kids would not be interacting with other kids in the physical sense. They would be in front of a screen. That may or may not socially impact them. On another note, distance education could mean the end of school shootings as we know it. Kids would have the Internet to provide some protection from being made fun of because there is no visual contact with other students.

    A third issue with distance education is the obesity epidemic. As far as I know, there are no gym classes with distanced education. That also means no playground. And if children become attached to the computer, they will less likely to be physically active. This also adds the question of how distance education would impact extra curricular activities.

    A definite advantage of distance education is that it would teach children to use proper netiquette. It can also teach them ethical computer usage. Another advantage of distance education is that school buildings wouldn't bee needed which means lower costs. That includes janitorial work as well as electricity, property maintenance, etc. There would be a building, but none that has the requirements of a school building.
    • > On another note, distance education could mean the end of school shootings as we know it. Kids would have the Internet to provide some protection from being made fun of because there is no visual contact with other students.

      Because as every gibbering fuckwit knows, the lack of visual contact between people has always ensured a high degree of civility in any new communications medium.

      And now that we've ended school shootings as we've known them, and because class ends in only five minutes, will you

  • Well, running under the assumption that the goal is for children to still attend school instead of home-schooling, then the most obvious answer would be to organize carpooling and the like. Not that this is better organized by fiber-optics and high speed though. Set up a community board, or a school website that has forums for parents to organize such things. One would assume that most of the students live in the area, so why not discover that Jimmy's mom drives Jimmy to school every day, and he lives 2
    • At the high school level, students that are otherwise served by buses should be forced to use them instead of driving their own cars to school. Too many drive themselves around here.

      • At the high school level, students that are otherwise served by buses should be forced to use them instead of driving their own cars to school.

        Yes, the best way to deal with teenagers is to force them to do something they don't want to do.

        As if that could be achieved anyway -- depending on how it's written, a law banning high-school-age students from driving their own cars on public roads to and from school could well be unconstitutional.

        Could schools discourage students from driving themselves to school by
    • ummm... isn't that what the busses already do? AND not only that, but the bus is a heck of a lot more energy effecient in terms of fuel usage (most are disel, some turbo disel), which run more efficient to begin with and add in the fact that it carries 10-15x more kids then your typical family car.
  • They could (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Friday August 26, 2005 @03:53PM (#13410431)
    - Organize adult-supervised bicycle rides for kids who live within 3 miles of their schools

    - Stop buying computers for primary schools that provide little educational value compared to cheap books and good teachers. The savings could pay for school bus

    - Replace old school bus with efficient new ones. Perhaps even a hybrid concept or something similar. Very high cost upfront, but gas savings.

    - Raise taxes. Gap! yes! raise *YOUR* taxes so that *YOUR* children may go to school and have a chance at a good education and a good future, a concept America as a whole has completely forgotten for some reason.
    • Raise taxes. Gap! yes! raise *YOUR* taxes so that *YOUR* children may go to school and have a chance at a good education and a good future, a concept America as a whole has completely forgotten for some reason.

      Or more accurately, raise *MY* taxes so *YOUR* child can go to school.

      Not all of us are parents.
      • Re:They could (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hawkbug (94280)
        Yeah, I was just gonna chime in on that one - my Dad was a school administrator for 30 years. Anytime a local city resolution was going to be passed to help pay for school things, people came out and protested like mad, mostly the older farmers who didn't have kids - or if they did, they were long grown up and gone by now. It was always impossible to get things like that passed to help schools, so schools always operated with a very small budget.

        The sad thing is, a good education system just doesn't help
      • I know that you didn't mean to suggest that taxes should not be raised to pay for education, but in case it came off that way I think it should be clear that it is in the interest of society as a whole to have well educated students.
        • I know that you didn't mean to suggest that taxes should not be raised to pay for education, but in case it came off that way I think it should be clear that it is in the interest of society as a whole to have well educated students.

          Well, if every thing that was in the interest of society caused more taxation, we'd all be pretty screwed -- and I live in Canada and pay quite a bit of tax. I am happy to pay it for the most part, for exactly the reasons you mention.

          However, when I hear about the sheer number

      • But one day, those kids are gonna be old enough to vote, and their level of education is going to affect their votes which is going to affect you.

        We are all part of society, and kids need to be able to function in the society that we're all part of.
        • But one day, those kids are gonna be old enough to vote, and their level of education is going to affect their votes which is going to affect you.

          Unfortnuately, considering how poorly educated the average US student seems to be when it comes to history as well as current political events, I think we're getting a pretty low return on our investment right now.

          Not that this is entirey the school's fault. You cannot force kids to learn. Though you can fail them if they choose not to do so, and then they
      • I'd rather spend some money out of my pocket today and help educate the kids rather than spend a ton more locking them up later on.
    • "Raise taxes. Gap! yes! raise *YOUR* taxes so that *YOUR* children may go to school and have a chance at a good education and a good future, a concept America as a whole has completely forgotten for some reason."

      School taxes have been rising steadily for decades, and what do we have to show for it?
  • With the mention of fiber connected homes and broadband connectivity, I cannot help but think perhaps the poster has some sort of idea like: "well we don't need schools anymore, let's have all the kids learn at home!" That's a beast of a discussion in and of itself.

    As for the main question of how technology in general can help save money now being spent on fuel for school buses, the immediate choices are more obvious. They include things like hybridization of the vehicles, natural-gas burning buses, and other forms of making the fleet more fuel-efficient. It's only a matter of time before some of the efficiency improvements we're starting to see in the family car show up in school buses.


    Visit the oldest currently running "webcam" on the internet [mitwebcam.com]

  • ...that 'real-life' social interaction and regular structured excercise are no longer needed for kids in the 21st century?

    I assume all the above goes on in America just as it does in schools across the world.

    I think the school bus or just getting kids to walk to school is about as good as it gets. Perhaps a more efficient HFC or EV bus could help with long-term costs?
  • Look, it takes incredible production values to give highly trained presenters half a chance at being half as compelling as someone in the room. This just doesn't lend itself to mass production.

    And do you want your teachers acting like local news clones? Ick.

    Put the powerpoint away, hand out books instead. Actual learning may be involved.
  • The most significant problem with trying to use IT technology to fix this that more and more households have both parents working. School allows kids to be monitored while parents can go off and make the money.

    The implication here is that somehow IT will make it so that kids won't have to leave home, and right now in US society that's not realistic. Children need to go somewhere else to be taught and monitored until society shifts back to a model where only one parent is a breadwinner.

    You might think this
  • There is no substitute for personal attention from a real teacher.

  • A bus is much more efficient per passenger mile than the SUV (or probably even the Prius that eco-mom drives). 30 students moved 10 miles (at say, 10 mpg) takes 1 gallon, move those same 30 students 10 miles in individual cars that get 50 mpg would take (30*10/50)=6 gallons of gas, or in other words, you would have to pack 5 kids in each 50mpg hybrid to match the transportation efficiency of the ugly yellow bus.
    • Sadly, your numbers are probably not too far off. I'dve expected diesel efficiency to be better but a recent paper rated a shuttle (so more stop & go,
      the worst case for efficiency) at 2km /l... or about 5 mpg. OTOH you do assume that the routes are the same; buses have to do circuits of some sort typically. I still suspect they come out on top but agree with others that children should become reaccquainted with a piece of technology known as the bicycle; seasonal weather permitting.
  • Since we're also supposed to be considering alternative fuel sources, why not have some of those High School Chemistry classes have a focus on BioDiesel? :)
  • Adjusting for inflation, fuel prices in 1981 were about $3.07 per gallon.

    I don't recall them complaining about school buses back then, but then again I was only 11 and didn't pay much attention.

  • Have those youngsters put all that extra energy to good use! ;)
    • Have those youngsters put all that extra energy to good use! ;)

      Brilliant. You solve the whole obesity epidemic/PE thing, cut costs, *and* cut your emissions.

      I'm fairly sure that would probably contravene a couple of child-welfare laws though. :-P
  • Once upon a time when I was a little boy . . .

    We walked 1 mile to school in the morning.

    We walked 1 mile home for lunch.

    We walked 1 mile to school for afternoon session

    We walked 1 mile home at the finish of the day.

    We not only had no busses, we did not have
    a cafeteria.

    It felt great! I always looked forward to those
    walks!

    Nobody even suggested we take a bus.

    The only time mom ever drove me is if she had
    to take me to the doctor's on the way to school
    or some other errond.

    How I long for those innocent, peacefull,
  • Why bus kids to school? Build smaller neighbourhood schools, that kids can walk to. Get the off their bums, get some exercise, then we won't be raising a generation of obese slugs.
  • I don't mean to troll, but I have ot say that the question seems poorly written and completely off-base. Unless kids are now paying for school, I don't see how it's an issue for them to afford it or not, since the parents and taxpayers are the ones usually paying. The cost of busing children to school is more now that fuel is more costly, but if I were a parent dropping my child off at school or letting them drive I'd certainly be working hard on finding a carpool or making them use the bus.

    Then the questio
  • The premise of using home schooling to reduce the state's cost of fueling the school buses is absurd. To do that would mean an all or nothing proposition. If you've got 50 kids on a school bus and 45 decide to opt for home schooling, you still have to get those 5 and take them to and from school. Depending on how many stops were actually able to be skipped, my guess is that the fuel savings is minimal.

    Reason for kids not being able to be schooled at home are endless. Biggest one being THERE IS NO ONE THERE
  • What a stupid question in the first place.

    "Tech" can lower cost of education for a few years, then evereyone gets to the same "cost" level and "expensive" again becomes a relative term.

    What's the cost difference between two schools that use open source for everything?
    Dick.

  • Frankly, the cost of gas just isn't that high. Look at the overall budget for a school, and then look at how much of it is fuel costs. It's just not very much money.

    In the mean time, just don't pick up kids who live within 1 mile of school. They can walk.
  • Gas would probably have to be $10 a gallon or more, maybe $50 before "Tech" could /lower/ the costs of education rather than raise it.

    The article mentions 12 million gallons of fuel a year? To bus what, several million students, several hundred thousand at least? Any amount of "Tech" that results in keeping kids at home and still getting educated is going to cost the state and/or the parents probably hundreds of dollars in start-up costs and possibly multiple hundreds of dollars a year in service and mainte
  • How about cutting technology budgets and not worrying about how to get children to school? It's amazing how well books and teachers can educate children.
  • I recall a talk with a teacher once about kids who did well in elementary school and then seemed to hit a wall in junior high. As she explained it, the instruction "style" changes fairly dramatically between the two. In elementary school, children learn to read, but are not typically expected to acquire knowledge independently by reading -- all the material will be covered orally in class as well. In junior high, class becomes more of a forum for discussing the material, and the children must acquire consid
  • E-Charter School (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MettaBen (685128)
    Here in Hawai'i, we have "charter" schools which are experimental schools less restricted by the rules and policies of the Dept. of Education. Of these charter schools, we have ThompsonAcademic.org, an "E-Charter" school which teaches its courses almost entirely online. Teachers actually gets more face time one-on-one with the students who need it, because only struggling students are required to come in for direct personal tutoring. This school attracts a mix of students from both ends of the academic s
  • I'm not against home schooling or schooling via the Internet, but there is something to be said about the social aspect of the schoolyard. I learned a lot about social settings and how to play with others, sharing, and even whom to avoid from having to "go" to school. I think that if we all start homeschooling our children or having them learn via the Interenet to save money on the bus driver's fuel bill there will be some aspects of growing up and things that don't develop properly.

    I live in a relatively

  • My local school district only provides bus service to students that live at least 1.5 miles from school. However, the school busses seem to stop every few blocks when I get behind one in the morning. The obvious solution is to put school bus stops at least two miles apart. Less stopping-and-starting means more fuel efficiency!
  • mass transit buses have to meet certain federal guidelines, including fuel consumption. school buses are excempt from the same guidelines, including general safety and load restrictions. fix that and you have more fuel efficient school buses.
  • So one problem with education costs is that the schoolbus gas costs is going up? Here's an idea that might help:

    Back in in the olden days when I went to school we walked to our bus stop. For grade school the bus stop was only about 1/10 to 2/10 of a mile frm my house. But for jr. high and high school there were fewer routes and stops and my bus stop was about a mile from my house. This is the north where there was often significant snow to walk through, and some icy hills to climb. Now I live in the mid-so

  • Students go to school 3 days a week, and learn the rest of the week from home.
    Colleges do it.
    If they really want to make it cool, half the class goes to school on Monday/wednesday/friday. The other half goes on tuesday/thursday.
    The part of the class that goes three days a week goes for shorter periods (maybe 5 hours/day) while the other guys go 7 hours/day. This helps bring smaller class sizes. Students can learn from home.
  • by rearden (304396) on Friday August 26, 2005 @05:02PM (#13411171) Homepage
    While I generally applaud increasing or adding to our general use of technology in helping to solve US educational deficiencies or to just help keep our educational system in tune with the world; on this one I have to call into question the logic of a technological solution to a social / infrastructure issue. As much as school is an educational institution, for many it is also a social institution, and while many home schooled groups do resolve this missing ingredient of regular social interaction among peers many do not. School is where our children learn (or fail to) how to interact, respond to, and respect others and other groups. That aside, I think the greater concern is that we are looking to technology to resolve a financial issue rather than a methedoligy or substance issue. Providing home schooling for moral, ethical, or simply quality issues is one thing, but providing it as a means to lower fuel cost comes across to me as fixing the symptom and not the problem.

    If we want to reduce our fuel cost for schools, let's look at mass transportation. We need to consider doing like the MTA's (Mass Transit Authorities) and switch to cleaner, more efficient fuels for schools buses (CNG, etc). In metro areas we need to encourage having kids ride the metro bus system instead of maintaining two bus systems (school and general transit). We could place a "school official" (a.k.a- the current bus driver) on each MTA bus that picks up kids, and then they would be responsible for safety and counting fares. This would reduce fuel and maintenance cost for both the school system and the MTA, it would also introduce social change in our society by removing the stigma of riding public transportation. Over all it would be a benefit to many, and in rural areas the application of alternative fuels and more efficient modern buses would most likely be a better solution than attempting to build out some expensive county wide internet/ multimedia network infrastructure.

    Trying to solve a social/ infrastructure problem in life by throwing more technology at it generally does nothing but complicate the situation. Social & infrastructure problems require a social or infrastructure solution. Technology is not the end all be all solution- the tech bubble should have taught us that.

    Just my thoughts....
  • by TheSync (5291) on Friday August 26, 2005 @05:12PM (#13411252) Journal
    How about allowing the free market to come up with effective solutions to schooling instead of lockng entire communities into government monopolies.

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